Ah, the messy days of youth. Do you remember your first car? Things went in and never came out. It was your home on wheels, a place where you ate meals, fixed your hair, and transported loud, fun, messy groups of people. Or was that only yesterday?
This month's project is to take two hours to turn your mobile snack bar-playroom-office into a lean, mean traveling machine!
Divide and Conquer. Stock your car's built-in compartments.
Door pockets: maps (see that they're in one piece) and a small flashlight on the driver's side; tissues, paper towels and trash bags on the passenger's side. Ash/coin tray: change for tolls (but get rid of those pennies).
Get a neat leather or plastic case for CDs and audiobooks. (Toss the ancient Eagles cassette with the twisted tape.)
If your car is your second office, invest in a portable file box or mini lap desk designed for use on the passenger seat. It will prevent your papers from flying around as you drive, and will speed access to the information you need. Keep an envelope for business-related receipts in the driver's-side door pocket, and empty it every Friday.
For travel with kids, try these quick fixes: a shoe bag hung behind the front seat for snacks and water bottles; a container stashed under the front passenger seat for car games and activities; a bin on the floor for all the shoes, jackets and sweaters kids peel off while traveling (this will spare you the crazy search when you stop).
Have a trash bag for every row of seats, and toss it at every rest stop.
Leave No Wrapper Behind. Clean and restock your car at the end of each trip. No matter how tired you are, resist the temptation to let that empty muffin bag wait until mañana. Tomorrow turns into next week, next month...until one evening, after a black-tie fund-raiser, your neighbor asks for a lift home, and you comply—but first ask her to wait outside while you "just clean up a bit."